In my Facebook group for Steward/esses – YACHT STEWARDESS TIPS, we have many interesting and sometimes lively discussions, and they very often revolve around things near and dear (or not so dear!) to any Stew’s heart – laundry!
Recently we had a great discussion – the question I asked the members was:
“What is the BEST AND WORST laundry advice you have come across during your career as a Stew?”
Today I am sharing with you some top tips, horror stories and miracle solutions from myself and other Steward/ess veterans.
Top Tip: Use Vinegar in the Laundry Room:
Use Vinegar in the washing machine when washing towels, they come up very fluffy once you dry them.
How do we do this?
When you have loaded the washing, add about 1 cup of vinegar in a plastic cup INSIDE with the laundry (like the cup that comes with liquid laundry detergent) – this is not added to the soap drawer! Also add some laundry detergent in the soap drawer as usual and start the machine.
Why does it work?
Vinegar is a great de-calcifier. Tap water normally contains minerals and some water is harder than others. Hard water is water that contains an appreciable quantity of dissolved minerals (like calcium and magnesium) and vinegar breaks this down, making the water softer and therefore also naturally softening the laundry. Furthermore, the acid in vinegar acts as a softener by smoothing down the edges of fabric, especially towels. It also helps lock in the colour of dark items, and it is handy to remember to soak a new pair of dark jeans in a bucket of cold water and a cup of vinegar just before washing it for the first time. Not only does it assist in making your laundry soft, it also removes calcium/mineral build-up inside the pipes of the machine and into the grey water tank, which will prevent blockages.
**Side note: Vinegar is also an awesome hair conditioner if you do NOT colour/dye/highlight your hair. It will give you the softest hair! However, not advised on any colour treated hair, as this will strip all the dye over time.
What vinegar should I use?
I have been successfully using good old white spirits vinegar for the past 20 years and I still use this in my laundry almost daily.
Will my laundry smell of vinegar?
I find that the vinegar smell disappears during the rinse cycle. I have never taken out my laundry after adding vinegar and confusing it with the fish and chips shop around the corner! Sometimes you can add a drop of 100% natural essential oils to the vinegar before placing the cup into the machine.
Do I still need fabric softener?
Fabric softener is what I call one of the ‘evils of the laundry room’. It builds up in your washing machine pipes and in the yacht’s grey water tanks (often pumped into the ocean and causing huge environmental damage to Marine Life), it creates a chemical build-up on your clothes, contains toxic VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) detrimental for your health.
Some other Best & Worst Steward/ess Advice for Laundry & Yacht Interior
- To remove candle wax from tablecloths and carpets, scrape off the excess wax, lay 4 sheets of kitchen paper (paper towel) on the remaining wax and then press over the paper towel with a medium hot iron.
- Place fresh lemon juice on rust stains (on white clothes and towels) and leave it out in the direct sun for an hour or two – it will remove the rust stain! Remember to wash the item as normal afterwards to remove the lemon juice. Do not use Whink 54 Rust remover on fabrics, it can easily fray or damage the fabric.
- Tumble dryer sheets also need to be banned from laundry rooms around the world. Most of them are non-bio-degradable, they are a fire hazard (even though they claim to be reducing static electricity) because their chemicals coat the lint screen in the dryer (blocking the air flow) and the also contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment. Toss them!!
- Lift the worst carpet stains by dissolving one tablespoon of dish liquid into two cups of warm water, and blot the stain with a clean white cloth dipped in the solution. Repeat until the stain absorbs into the cloth and disappears from the carpet. Then sponge with cold water, and blot dry with a clean cloth. (Author’s note – it is essential to know what fabric your carpet is made of prior to attempting any cleaning solutions – some carpets can only be cleaned by professionals who specialise in a certain carpet fibre).
- Dawn dishwashing soap works on everything!!! It is the best stain remover to use, but be sure to use the colourless one; otherwise it might stain white clothes and sheets.
- baking soda works in the fridge as an odour fighter. Put a plastic container filled with baking soda in the fridge and it will absorb the smells from different foods.
- Place a slice of lemon in a cup of boiling water, place it in the microwave for a few minutes and the steam will loosen the grime in the microwave. Wipe the inside immediately after taking the cup out. Or better yet – teach the crew to use a plastic microwave cover!
- For mascara stains, use a Dove soap bar! Rub the moist bar over the stain a few times. And the dove soap will remove a stain even after having washed, dried and ironed the spot.
- Here’s a really simple one but great nonetheless: pour your detergent (sometimes in large containers) and softeners into squeezy bottles for easier use.
- Always read garment labels before laundering. DO NOT tumble dry if the label says so, and DRY CLEAN only means exactly that.
- Bleach can cause serious damage and should rather not be used. It ruins clothes, eats marble, wood and the gold on plated fixtures.
- Check the laundry for objects inside pockets (like pens, lipstick, chapstick, mobile phones and lighters).
- Always spray cleaning products on the cloth first, not the surface that you are cleaning.
- Be careful closing mirror closet doors, as they can crack.
- Check the voltage of an appliance before plugging in (USA 110V and EUR 220 – 240 V).
- Collect business cards – contacts are everything in this industry – keep sorted into different countries and different sections: florists, transports, chandlers, etc. You can also add your contacts to Nautic Nomad’s website to keep track of , share with others, and find new places!
- Don’t allow food or lemon juice, etc. to touch marble, the acid will etch it. (Also, regularly wipe around the marble walls and marble toilet floors, as vomit and urine leave permanent marks in the polyurethane coating on the marble).
- Don’t leave soap (like liquid hand wash soap and soap bars) on marble, it will damage the marble.
- Don’t open the door (even after knocking) unless someone has invited you in.
- Don’t overload the washing machine (esp. with big heavy towels) – it will break or leak.
- Don’t use Museum Gel – EVER!
- Carrying cleaning products in a cleaning caddy prevents drips (from bleach and blue Windex, etc.) on your white carpets!
- Don’t use Scotch Pads on Lexan Shower doors to clean off soap scum.
- Put the “carpet runners” back on the carpets as soon as the guests leave.
- Put drop towels, drop cloths or protective covers down at entrances throughout the boat that is used by crew – their feet are often wet when they come from outside or some don’t even take off their shoes! (Drop cloths or drop towels on yachts are usually the ones you buy for painting (like this all purpose canvas cotton drop cloth for yachts) Or you can use old towels that are no longer good for being in the guest cabins or on deck.
- If soaking items in bleach, put a lid on the bucket and label.
- Just use water and vinegar mix in a spray bottle on wood surfaces, not Pledge or Mr Min, as all those other products attracts dust.
- Scented sprays stain silk, brass and marble (does it make sense to spray an oily scented spray over clean surfaces that you just detailed?) (Author’s note – oil diffusers WILL fall over in rough seas…)
- Set the glasses for the table while at anchor at the last minute, a bad wake can topple them.
- Make sure you always securely stow items inside cupboards (like vases, candle holders, wine). If not, they will roll around when the boat moves and break.
- Trust your instincts when interviewing for a job – if the Captain seems disrespectful in the interview, he probably is always like that.
- When ironing in a cabin, make sure to put down a towel or protective cover underneath, so if/when the iron falls over, you don’t ruin the carpet.
- The colour tint on dark/black/navy clothes last longer if you soak it in vinegar and water for a few hours prior to their very first wash.
- Use eco-friendly liquid laundry detergent, not powder and not normal generic detergents containing loads of harmful chemicals (to your health and the environment).
- Not all irons use distilled water and not all irons can be cleaned (de-calcified) with vinegar. It is best to contact your iron manufacturer or the instruction manual for advice before attempting any cleaning or prior to first use.
- Having to stand witness to having all our gym spandex/latex items washed on a 75 degree C wash because “it’s smelly and needs a hot wash”. Needless to say the red panty dyed my lulu lemon gear and some others a pretty pink and all the stretchiness has disappeared, now making it normal sweatpants….
- We had a stew who wanted to sterilize a pair of Crocs, famous for being an ‘indestructible’ shoe. She somehow managed to shrink the pair by two sizes. She was called Crocodile Dundee from that day forth.
- To get rid of smelly odours in shoes sprinkle bicarbonate soda in them then empty when you’re about to wear them again!
- Worst advice to put fabric softener on white guest towels… they changed colour from white to off-white. (Author’s note: softener also puts a type of chemical (poisonous) oil on the towel and doesn’t allow the fluffiness you get when adding vinegar to the wash cycle. My advice: throw all fabric softener away. Use natural water softeners like vinegar and baking soda for soft laundry. Use about 75 ml baking soda and 75 ml vinegar in 2 separate plastic cups.
- Put bottles of wine/Champagne in the freezer for a quick chill… You will be cleaning up a lot of exploded glass.
- Put Domestos (containing bleach) into the yacht’s Microphor toilets – it killed all the ‘bugs’ in the pipes and black water tanks and the Engineers were livid.
- Use heavy duty steel wool to remove marks off the guest head mirrors – they had to be replaced… (also, don’t use razor or painter’s blades on plastic mirrors or Perspex shower doors).
- ‘Live like a yacht owner’, they said… I am leaving the industry after 4 years with nothing to show for it…. (heard from a yachtie in a bar).
- Clean the bamboo/viscose/wool/silk carpet with a regular wet carpet shampoo. Now all the carpets on board have to be replaced… (It is essential to know all the fabrics you have an board, including what your carpets are made of).
- No one warned me to be careful when vacuuming around the wooden furniture and when carrying the vacuum around the yacht – no I have learnt the hard way that the varnish on interior walls is extremely delicate and the yacht walls are full of nicks and dings.
- Whink 54 Rust remover stains stainless steel if left on…
- It would be ok to wash my white clothes with a few coloured items if it is washed on a cold wash… now the once white crew T-shirts are grey…
Best of luck to all of you during the season!
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